Tim Berners-Lee (right) and the author
I have to admit I’ve always been a fan of Tim Berners-Lee for inventing the Web, hence the embarrassing fan boy picture above. But I’m even more of a fan now. Let me explain why.
Tim Berners-Lee, its inventor, wrote:
By design, the underlying Internet and the WWW are non-hierarchical, decentralized and radically open. The web can be made to work with any type of information, on any device, with any software, in any language. You can link to any piece of information. You don’t need to ask for permission. What you create is limited only by your imagination.
This is exactly the vision that has made so many people contribute to Mozilla since its early days, when we wanted to bring back choice and innovation to the Web browser market (our motto at the time). But Firefox is going to turn 10 years old by the end of the year, and new challenges have appeared. Tim Berners-Lee is once again describing these issues beautifully:
Will we allow others to package and restrict our online experience, or will we protect the magic of the open web and the power it gives us to say, discover, and create anything? How can we build systems of checks and balances to hold the groups that can spy on the net accountable to the public?
On the anniversary Web site, he added:
We have much to do for the Web to reach its full potential. We must continue to defend its core principles and tackle some key challenges. To name just three:
- How do we connect the nearly two-thirds of the planet who can’t yet access the Web?
- Who has the right to collect and use our personal data, for what purpose and under what rules?
- How do we create a high-performance open architecture that will run on any device, rather than fall back into proprietary alternatives?
What stroke me here is how Tim Berners-Lee’s questions are aligned with what Mozilla’s working on:
- Building a high performance open architecture to avoid proprietary alternatives? That’s what we’re doing with Firefox OS, an Open Source operating system for smartphones that runs HTML5 applications (aka Web apps).
- Connecting the two-thirds of the planet who can’t access the Web? This is exactly what we’re trying to do with with entry level smartphones, including some of them that could be made available for only USD25 (that’s less than EUR20!).
- Addressing the collection of personal data? That’s what Mozilla is working on with its privacy initiatives, including cool projects such as Lightbeam for Firefox.
It’s fantastic to see how Mozilla and the Web’s inventor still share so much in terms of vision after all these years. To learn more, I encourage you to read Mitchell Baker’s blog post on 25 years of Web, Brendan Eich’s thinking on the next 25 years and Mark Surman’s love letter to the Web.